History: November 20

November 20

0868 Death: St Edmund, Saxon king of East Anglia; shot with arrows and beheaded by Vikings. (Bradley)

1272 Edward I is proclaimed King of England.

1780 Britain declares war on Holland.

1789 New Jersey becomes the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights.

1820 The 238-ton American whaler Essex, which hails from Nantucket, Massachusetts, is attacked by an 80-ton sperm whale 2,000 miles from the western coast of South America. An enraged bull whale rams the ship twice and capsizes the vessel. The 20 crew members escape in three open boats, but only five of the men survive the harrowing 83-day journey to the coastal waters of South America, nearly 5,000 miles away, where they are picked up by other ships. Most of the crew resort to cannibalism during the long journey, and at one point men on one of the long boats draw straws to determine which of the men will be shot in order to provide sustenance for the others. Three other men who had been left on a desolate Pacific island are saved later. The first capture of a sperm whale by an American vessel was in 1711, marking the birth of an important American industry that commanded a fleet of more than 700 ships by the mid 18th century. Herman Melville's classic novel Moby Dick (1851) is inspired in part by the story of the Essex. (Bradley)

1851 Birth: John Merle Coulter, botanist.

1884 Birth: Norman Thomas, six times the Socialist Party candidate for US president.

1866 The first rotary-crank bicycle, known as the 'bone shaker,' is patented by Frenchman Pierre Lallemont in Paris.

1889 Birth: Edwin Powell Hubble, Rhodes Scholar, lawyer, astronomer; will develop the concept of an expanding universe.

1900 Birth: Chester Gould.

1906 Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce get together to form their car-building company.

1914 Photos become a requirement for people who request passports from the US State Department.

1917 WW1: The Allies unleash the first large-scale tank attack. At dawn approximately 200 tanks, followed by wave after wave of infantry, plow into the Germans positions in front of Cambrai. German defenses temporarily collapse and the assault breaks through the Hindenburg line for 5 miles along a 6-mile front.

1917 WW1: A preliminary armistice is signed between Germany and Russia. Note: According to Russian historian Yuri Polyakov, who also stated the Allies never replied to the Soviet peace proposal of November 8.

1919 The first municipally owned airport in America opens in Tucson, Arizona.

1923 Weimar: Inflation in Germany peaks at 130,000,000,000 marks to the dollar. (WWIIDBD)

1925 Birth: Robert Francis Kennedy; US Attorney General under his brother President John F. Kennedy; US Senator from New York. Will be assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan on 5 June 1968.

1934 Goering repeats Germany's offer of October 22 and insists that Romania is not being asked to abandon any of its previous alliances. This offer will be made time and time again, right up to the eve of war.

1935 The Church of England unanimously condemns Nazi persecution of Jews in Germany.

1938 Father Charles Coughlin, head of the misnamed Union of Social Justice, makes a notorious anti-Semitic radio broadcast, prompting group pressure that will eventually force him off the air

1940 WW2: Antonescu and Sturdza arrive in Berlin.

1940 WW2: Hungarian Prime Minister Count Teleki and Foreign Minister Csaky in Vienna agree to bring Hungary into the Tripartite Pact.

1940 Those Vichy French: Admiral Leahy is appointed United States Ambassador at Vichy.

1942 Stalingrad: The Stalingrad Front is attacked. Vatutin's attacks are now gaining momentum, by the end of this day he has penetrated up 25 miles. Above: The previous extent of Nazi penetration. (Messenger)

1943 WW2: A force of 5,000 US Marines lands on Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands. Fighting is ferocious and casualties high.

1944 WW2: Hitler leaves the Wolf's Lair and travels to his headquarters near Bad Nauheim.

1943 WW2: The Battle of Tarawa-Makin begins, marking the beginning of the US offensive against Japan in the Central Pacific.

1944 WW2: London lights up as the blackout is lifted for the first time in five years.

1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: The trial for 22 of the most important of the major German war criminals by the International Military Tribunal begins at 10 a.m. in Nuremberg, Germany. The defendants include Hess, Goering and Speer. (Maser II)

1945 Nuremberg Tribunal: Alfred Naujocks, SS secret-service veteran and member of the SD, signs a sworn affidavit stating that Reinhard Heydrich had personally ordered him to fake a Polish attack on the German radio station at Gleiwitz on the German-Polish border on August 31, 1939. Hitler, he says, planned to use this faked attack as his public justification for attacking Poland. Naujocks subsequently 'disappears.' (Shirer I)

1947 Princess Elizabeth, who will be Queen in four years, weds Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten.

1951 Diary of Leon Gladun: Finally we set off for that Canada. The Canberra an 11,000 ton ship. The crew almost all Germans. The passengers are a gathering of all nationalities. The [...] dominates. The cabins aren't too wonderful. Janka and Jacek are placed in cabin 373 where there are 3 women with children. I'm in cabin 361.

1963 President John F. Kennedy makes two related phone calls this day. Kennedy to Michael Forrestal: "I want you to organize an in-depth study of every possible option we've got in Vietnam, including how to get out of there. We have to review this whole thing from the bottom to the top." Kennedy to George Ball: "I'll get back from Texas Sunday. Come out to Camp David. Cabot Lodge will be there and we can go over these things."

1970 Spirograph Currency: The ten shilling note in Britain goes out of circulation, replaced by the 50p piece.

1975 Ronald Reagan announces his candidacy for the 1976 Republican presidential nomination; a race he will lose to incumbent Gerald Ford, who will lose to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

1982 President Reagan announces that US Marines will be deployed in Lebanon to assist in the evacuation of PLO fighters.

1983 Ling Jinxian wins the Best Cook in China award, with a menu including bear's paw and sea slug.

1986 Iran-Contra: Former US national security adviser to Ronald Reagan, Robert McFarlane, calls the secret arms deal he arranged in Iran, a 'mistake,' that failed to gauge public disapproval. Note: It was also clearly illegal and arguably unconstitutional.

1990 British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher fails to win a 65-percent majority in a Conservative Party vote, forcing a runoff against Michael Heseltine.

1991 The United States provides $1.5 billion in food and technical assistance to the Soviet Union, about half of what had been requested.

2001 The United Nations announces upcoming talks in Bonn, Germany, to forge a post-Taliban government in Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance agree to attend the Berlin talks.

2001 At a conference in Washington, attended by 21 countries to discuss the reconstruction of Afghanistan, Colin Powell declares, "We are going to have an enormous obligation ... to not leave the Afghan people in the lurch, and not walk away as has been done in the past."

2001 US bombers continue to strike the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, and the Northern Alliance gives the Taliban three days to surrender in Konduz or face a military assault.

2001 The Pentagon moves hundreds more US Marines on amphibious vessels to the region to help in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

2001 The US military drops leaflets into Afghanistan offering a $25 million reward for Osama bin Laden and his associates.

2001 An elderly Connecticut women is hospitalized with inhalation anthrax.










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